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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3438

Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (16:35): Faced with increasing competition from countries in our region and the export opportunities provided by free trade agreements, a more efficient private sector will be the key to economic growth and prosperity for our nation. Currently, the cost of compliance with government legislation and regulation continues to be a major impediment for business across Australia.

If our domestic industry is to be competitive, an administrative burden of excessive bureaucracy must be lifted. Business leaders have raised concerns that their operations are being restricted by an increasingly complex, multi-tiered, regulatory system that can often be so complex and technical that it is necessary to engage specialist consultants to achieve compliance. All, from small businesses through to large corporations, are affected. The cost of compliance, coupled with additional holding costs imposed by delays, has a detrimental effect on the financial viability of both business operations and key economic development projects.

In response to feedback from the business community, the coalition government has introduced legislation during the current sitting of parliament to repeal approximately 10,000 items of legislation and regulations, equating to some 50,000 pages of text to be removed from the statute books. The repeals are wide ranging across all ministerial portfolios, including the Attorney-General's Department, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the departments of Defence; Education; Employment; the Environment; Finance; Foreign Affairs and Trade; Health; Immigration and Border Protection; Infrastructure and Regional Development; Social Services; and Veterans' Affairs. The estimated cost saving to the economy is in the order of $719 million per annum.

This only represents the government's first phase of repealing redundant legislation. The regulation repeal process is an ongoing commitment of government, with two parliamentary repeal days scheduled every year to achieve the target of $1 billion reduction in red-tape compliance costs. Members of the public are encouraged to make submissions specifically identifying areas where repeal and reform are warranted via the Australian government's online deregulation resource, the website.

Memoranda of understanding have been signed with all states and territories establishing a single point of contact for environmental approvals. No longer will separate Commonwealth assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act be required when an accredited state approval is already in place. Within the electorate of Moore, the major local projects which will benefit from the new regime include the redevelopment of the Ocean Reef Marina, and the Neerabup Industrial Area, which have both experienced significant delays as a result of the outdated multi-tiered system of environmental approvals.

The coalition government is addressing the way policy makers approach the issue of future regulation across government departments with the introduction of regulatory impact statements, which are mandatory for all cabinet submissions, and establishing a deregulation unit in every portfolio. This will ensure that new regulation is introduced sparingly and as a means of last resort.

Deregulation will help ensure that the Australian economy is able to compete on a level playing field with emerging economies in our region. With the advent of free trade and a globalised economy, with mobility of capital and investment across national borders, the Australian economy must be in good shape to compete with the rest of the world. The electors of Moore, in my home state of Western Australia, know that only a coalition government, matched by a strong team of senators, will deliver economic results for all Australians.